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Posts Tagged ‘DS&L’

Removing Tariffs is the Key to Economic Relief

February 24th, 2021 COMMENTS

By Rob Cohen & Dasher Lowe & Kevin Carty

Removing Tariffs

The following is from an opinion article in the Washington Examiner.

Reestablishing Economic Security

President Biden took office last month and was tasked with bolstering an economy that has struggled with the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic for almost a year. With millions of people still unemployed due to the pandemic and businesses across the nation facing continued uncertainty, reestablishing a sense of economic security will be a daunting challenge.

As Biden and his team weigh their options and decide how best to proceed, they should prioritize lifting the tariffs that the last administration made central to its trade strategy. While the tariffs were intended to level the playing field, especially in trade with China, they have actually created complex and difficult problems for U.S. businesses and consumers, especially as they navigate the struggles posed by COVID-19.

Tariffs Punish American Workers and Companies

These problems arise from the very simple truth that tariffs are taxes paid by the importer to the U.S. government. They do not punish companies in China or Europe — they punish businesses, consumers, workers, manufacturers, and families right here in America.

Since the Trump administration handed down its first slate of tariffs, igniting the trade war in 2018, businesses such as ours have been forced to reckon with difficult choices about how to handle the new costs. Either we could take on the costs ourselves, which in many cases would simply prove burdensome, or we could pass those costs on to customers, regardless of whether they were everyday consumers or other businesses — as is the case with our own companies.

Many businesses, including ours, cannot simply pick up and move operations. Doing so would mean jumping through extensive regulatory hurdles and incurring heavy costs (sometimes tens of thousands of dollars for just a single product) as we work to establish new relationships and supply lines.

While there was a process for seeking exclusions to the tariffs levied by the last administration, this process was muddled, was non-transparent, and resulted in denied requests for exclusions for many of the businesses that applied, leaving them stuck with the costs of the tariffs.

The Cost to Small Businesses

While some larger corporations may be able to afford these kinds of burdens, these costs are just too much for many smaller businesses to bear. As these businesses fail, so too does the broader economy. Small businesses contribute hundreds of billions of dollars to the U.S. GDP annually, and every business forced to close due to the excessive costs of tariffs represents a significant loss.

Biden and his nominee to be the next United States trade representative, Katherine Tai, have pledged to implement a trade policy that puts workers first. But simply put, that is not possible as long as we remain engaged in a trade war that has cost the U.S. more than $68 billion, whose toll grows greater with every passing day and still has no decisive end in sight. Every day that the trade war continues means greater pressure on job creators and further job losses for hard-working people trying to get their families through the coronavirus pandemic.

It was clear from the very beginning of the Trump administration’s trade wars that the heaviest losses would be felt at home, though the past administration pushed ahead, regardless. Now, Biden, Tai, and the rest of the administration’s economic decision-makers have the opportunity to right the ship and help businesses and families emerge from this pandemic even stronger.

Kevin Carty is the executive vice president of Classic Exhibits in Portland, Oregon. Rob Cohen is the vice president of Display Supply & Lighting, Inc., in Itasca, Illinois. Dasher Lowe is the executive director of the Experiential Designers and Producers Association, Inc.

SKU-Tastic!: Word on the Street — May 18th-May 22nd

May 24th, 2015 COMMENTS

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Another Fantastic Shared Knowledge University

Last week was not your normal May at Classic Exhibits. Why?

We held our most recent edition of Shared Knowledge University (SKU), Classic’s bi-annual distributor training session.

This SKU was so great that my friend Dave Brown from Optima coined the term “SKU-Tastic!” I wholeheartedly agree.

Like other SKU’s, we had a terrific mix of folks from all over the country, folks who gave their time to learn more about the Classic Family and products. And learn they did. They were engaged during the classroom sessions, and while I always gush a bit over our students, this group as a whole was truly impressive.

As always, there were sessions from our partners — Eco-Systems Sustainable, Optima and Display Supply and Lighting. To our partners…Matt Wish, Dave Brown, Brianna Ziomek and Tom Beard, I can’t begin to thank you all enough for your partnership and your investment in our joint customers via SKU.


We also had a lot of fun… as is always the case at SKU. We are proud of our weird little city and love to show others what makes Portland — Portlandia. 🙂 During this SKU, we visited local food carts for lunch (, an historic old elementary school turned brewery/restaurant/bar/movie theater, and finished with a great evening at Bridgeport, one America’s foundational Craft Breweries.

As we gathered toward the end of SKU, we asked the SKU Graduates for their takeaways. Their responses warmed my heart. Each person mentioned that one of their greatest takeaways was The People at Classic — their devotion, dedication, and care that they clearly have for the Company and for the Distributors they serve daily.

This is the one thing that makes it easy to wake up every day eager to go to work. Sure there are other things but the quality of our team is what drives me. So to the Classic Family, my sincere thanks, not only for all your hard work preparing for Shared Knowledge University but also for your daily commitment to the Shared Success Mission.

To the Graduates, Don’t Forget the PLEDGE. I will be checking in on that. And thank you so so much for your time and dedication. We never forget that it’s your efforts that allows us to put food on our tables each night.

For those distributors who have never attended an SKU, don’t miss your next opportunity, tentatively scheduled for November 9-10. You won’t regret it. Contact Reid Sherwood or Jen LaBruzza for details. Space is always limited.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend and take time to reflect upon those who gave the ultimate sacrifice over the years fighting to help keep our country great.

Be well!


EXHIBITORLIVE 2015 Review: Word on the Street — March 2nd thru March 6th

March 6th, 2015 7 COMMENTS

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Well I don’t know about you … but I am pooped! EXHIBITORLIVE 2015 has come and gone. What an amazing week of visiting with old friends, making new friends, and seeing all the exciting new things in our GREAT industry.

First and foremost, I want to thank our terrific show staff. By the time Mel and I arrived on Saturday, the booth was setup and looked amazing. James Sharpe and Jim Ponomarenko, the Production Managers from Classic Rentals and Classic Exhibits, were amazing. Thanks!!

Our booth staff included Jim and James as well as Katina Rigall, Trina Broten, John Zipay (the new guy 🙂 ), Jim Shelman, Reid Sherwood, Jen LaBruzza, Glenna Martin, Mel and me. To all — Kudos on a great week. Thanks for representing the “Classic” culture so well, as always.

Also, thanks to our vendor partners who helped make our booth shine — Optima Graphics, Brumark Flooring, DS&L, OTM Furniture, ELITeXPO Cargo and TSCrew (the I&D team). We appreciate your valued long-term partnership.

The Show

IMG_8179Now to the show itself. EXHIBITOR Magazine did another stellar job creating an positive atmosphere for everyone.

Day 1 — It was chaotic to be honest. The traffic was relentless, which we all like. I was telling a fellow employee that I don’t remember NOT being able take at least a five-minute break on Day 1. No way this time. Every time I finished with one attendee, there was another one waiting to dive into a new conversation. It was great!

Day 2 — It started early with Strategic Partner Day. I always enjoy the opportunity to spend  time the Classic Family of Distributors, our partners, and meet with potential distributors.

Day 3 — This year was a busy Day 3. Did I get out of the booth a bit? Yes, but only for a short stint. Our booth was filled with lots of end-users making one last trek through the hall. Most told me that the first two days were spent identifying what they wanted to see in more detail. So we had lots of quality time with people looking to buy, seeing what’s new, and getting to know our products and services.

Back to Day 2 — Day 2 also included two spectacular events after the show floor closed: The Portable Modular Summit and the The PMA’s (The Portable Modular Awards).

The Summit was titled “The New Evolution.” I hosted the event with my friend and mentor Jay Burkette from ExpoDisplays. With over 300 exhibitors and attendees in the audience, our conversation focused where we are in the Portable/Modular segment. There’s been a shift toward more complex, design-driven inlines and 400-900 sq foot islands with higher budgets and more creative displays. Our segment is not just healthy, it’s growing exponentially! Thanks to everyone who attended and took part in the discussion.

10411160_10150486186119995_2152677747564161621_nAfter the summit, Travis Stanton from Exhibitor Magazine took the stage. He served as the Host of the Portable Modular Awards ceremony, along with John Pavek. As Travis and John  announced the finalists and the awards, I was proud of what our segment is producing these days. It’s much more dynamic than any time in my 20 years in the industry. We truly have come a long way!

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not brag a bit. 🙂 Classic Exhibits and Eco-Systems both won awards this year! Classic Exhibits won for Best 20×20 Island of 2014!! Kudos to Katina Rigall for designing the Pacifica 20 x 20 Island and to Laura Magdalen from Exhibits NW for selling the beautiful project!

11021060_10150486186389995_5087437637545251912_nEco-Systems Sustainable won for the Best 10 x 10 Inline for the NASA project. It’s one of the best and most creative 10 x 10 spaces I’ve seen in years. Our congrats to Lisa Koskela and Lauren Orao for again taking portable hybrid design to new heights!

For those who could not attend, I am truly sorry. This year there were many new highlights, many of which were technology based. Technology continues to be an ever-growing accessory to spaces of all sizes. It allows exhibitors to stretch their dollars further. And by that, I don’t mean spending less. I mean getting more out of their exhibit assets.

The Classic Exhibits Booth

IMG_8256Classic showed new elements as well. There was considerable buzz around our New Charging Stations and the On The Move Furniture.

We introduced three new charging stations ranging from a coffee table to full size stations with lightboxes. All of which were very well received. For your reference, they are the ones highlighted in Design Monday last week.

The OTM Express was a true hit! Especially to clients wanting to maximize their exhibit dollars. OTM provides the ability to include branded furniture in your space that can be re-used show after show, as opposed to renting each show. And it packs down and is totally portable! I had one end-user pull out her calculator app on her iPhone and start calculating the savings for this year. She participates in 19 shows a year and figured she would save approx $11,500 over the remainder of the year. Pretty cool stuff.

Yes I am pooped. But a good kinda of pooped. The week really was very fulfilling. And like many years past, I left Las Vegas welling with pride not just for the staff we have, or for the great vendor partners we have, but also for the many great friends/distributors in the Classic Family.

Thanks, and have a great restful weekend with your families.



Word on the Street — March 28th thru April 1st

April 3rd, 2011 3 COMMENTS

EXHIBITOR 2011 Follow-up

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

EXHIBITOR Show Follow-up

To those who attended EXHIBITOR in Las Vegas, I hope you had an enjoyable time.

This past month was a very exciting one at Classic. I am delighted to announce that March will be the second largest sales month in Classic Exhibits’ history! Thanks to you, our distributors and friends, for your support, your orders, and for believing in our “Shared Success” philosophy.

Since I did not attend EXHIBITOR this year, I hope you will share your feedback and reactions via the blog. The Classic Team had only positive comments about the show: great traffic, quality leads, and an overall upbeat tone.

As you may have noticed if you were at the show, Classic Exhibits, ClassicMODUL, and Exhibits NW were fortunate to have built not just our own booth but also several others on the show floor.

Here are just a few. Let us know what you thought of these designs:

Cort Furnishings. The island display included ClassicMODUL black anodized extrusion, Aero Overhead Hanging Structures, and tension fabric graphics from Optima Graphics . . . and of course all the beautiful trade show furnishings from Cort.

Display Supply and Lighting @ Exhibitor 2011Display Supply and Lighting (DS&L). This inline included Silicone Edge Graphic profiles from ClassicMODUL, SEG fabric graphics from Optima, and some truly amazing LED lighting from Display Supply. Check out the picture, but don’t miss the video. Great work to Rob Cohen and his team. And additional kudos to Steve Pinette for a stunning design.

EliteXPO at Exhibitor 2011EliteXPO. This inline had a very cool lounge theme. It included several ClassicMODUL profiles, large format Duratrans and tension fabric graphics from Optima Graphics as well as LED backlighting panels from Display Supply and Lighting. Kudos to Dave, Lara, and Chuck. I heard a lot of great feedback from attendees on your booth design and theme. Nicely done!

New Leads 10 x 10. A great example of a Classic Exhibits 10 x 10 Sacagawea hybrid! Take a look. Turned out very beautiful and highlighted a very functional design. New Leads at Exhibitor 2011And special thanks to New Leads for allowing us to use their lead retrieval technology which runs off iPads. Very easy to use.

Optima Exhibitor 2011Optima Graphics Island. Not only was there a nice ClassicMODUL Tower in the booth, but did you see that Aero Hanging Sign structure?  Well done Jim, Dave, and the whole team at Optima.

EXHIBITOR Magazine. EXHIBITOR’s inline booth was a custom rental exhibit from Classic Rentals with a dynamic A/V presentation. The display demonstrated our flexible rental inventory and design capabilities. This was no kit. It was built using their design requirements for the show. Exhibitor2011_Booth

Classic Exhibits / Eco-systems Sustainable. And last but not least. I hope you enjoyed OUR booth: Your Home for Exhibits. Take a look at the pictures. What you might not know is that the structure is a Rental Exhibit! It highlights the true custom nature and capability of Jim Shelman and his whole crew at Classic Rentals / Exhibits NW. Thanks to Flying High Design for all the beautiful graphic work, to Optima for the printing, to Brumark for the carpeting, to Cort Furnishings for the comfy chairs and stools, to Nature Wall for the cool “real” grass wall in the ECO-Systems portion of the display. At the end of the day, that was probably the best overall design and display we have ever shown.

That being said, I want to say a personal thanks to Mel, Jim, James, Laura, Erik, Eric, Michael, Tim and of course Reid for their hard work last week. Not being there myself, I want you all to know how proud I am of our team and the job you did. Thanks!

Lastly, a huge thank you to our strategic partners:  Eco-systems Sustainable, Momentum Management, Cort, Optima Graphics, EliteXPO, and Display Supply and Lighting. Your guidance, generosity, and support made this year’s show particularly special.

Please share your comments about the show.

Have a great and restful weekend.

–Kevin Carty

Word on the Street — March 14th thru March 18th

March 18th, 2011 COMMENTS


Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

It’s Showtime!  EXHIBITOR SHOW 2011.

It is that time of year . . . and if you have been “peeking” at Peek-a-Booth, you probably already know what a creative and exciting display we have in store for the show. It’s a  “Home” (of sorts) where you can relax and learn about all the great things happening at Classic Exhibits, Exhibits Northwest, Eco-systems Sustainable, and ClassicMODUL.

The Booth

We are in Booth #1455 this year — a dynamic 20 x 30 space that will showcase all the divisions of Classic Exhibits and its sister company Eco-systems. The theme is “Your Home” for Hybrid, Modular, Portable, Rental, and Green Exhibits. Be sure you stop by so we can take you on a tour on the latest and greatest from your friends at Classic.

Customer Appreciation Reception (Tuesday)

Classic Exhibits, DS&L, and Optima Graphics ReceptionOn Tuesday, we are hosting a party from 4-6 pm in the Eye Candy Lounge of Mandalay Bay. During show hours, please come by and get your drink ticket and then join us for some good old fashioned networking and downtime afterwords. The reception is proudly sponsored by Classic Exhibits, Display Supply and Lighting, and Optima Graphics. You can get your drink tickets at any of our partners during show hours. Quantities are limited, so come by our booths early.

The Optima Graphics Reception (Monday)

Make sure you come by Monday evening for this annual event which is always an excellent place to catch up with old friends and network. It is being held in Mandalay Bay, Islander Ballrooms D and E, after the show breaks until 7 pm. Classic Exhibits is a proud sponsor of this event as well.

One-on-One Meetings During the Show

If you would like to schedule time with one of us during the show hours, please email Mel White at . He is handling the scheduling for the meetings on the show floor. Take advantage of this one-on-one time!

Wondering what to expect at the show? Take a look at the blog posting Mel wrote last week regarding the recent ExhibiTrends event he attended. It is a great snapshot of what you can expect from the show overall this year.

Multiple Displays on the Show Floor

Classic Exhibits is very proud to have more than just our 20 x 30 island unit on the show floor this year. Please make sure to see our handiwork at our vendor partners booths: Cort Furnishings, Optima Graphics, DS&L, New Leads, EliteXPO and the EXHIBITOR Magazine display. Not only are they great partners of Classic, but we also built all or part of their exhibits for the show this year.

Portable Modular Summit (Wednesday)

EDPA will host the Portable Modular Summit again this year. This session will meet on Wednesday, March 30 from 9:30 am to 10:30 am in Tropics A-B of the Mandalay Bay North Convention Center (look for the NORTH Convention Center sign on the right side of the main entrance hallway, just past the Starbucks). For more information, click here.

On a personal note, for the first time in 16 years I will not attend the show this year. A combination of being busy with several large projects, being very busy at Classic overall, and managing some staffing changes requires that someone stay behind and manage the ship. So I will be doing that. I will miss seeing those who are attending and want to personally thank you as always for your continued support of Classic Exhibits.

Be well and have a restful weekend. I am sure you will need all the rest you can for your week in Las Vegas.

–Kevin Carty